10-04-13 Field Note

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10-04-13 Field Note

October 4, 2013

Maririose Kuhlman recaps a study to determine the distribution and makeup of MPG bee populations.

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Pollinator Field Note Marirose Kuhlman October 2013

Basic population information about insect pollinators, especially in natural systems, remains sparse. Systematic monitoring of current and future bee species communities increases the knowledge base.

This year we initiated a pollinator monitoring program using a standard protocol to characterize bee species diversity and abundance (LeBuhn, et al 2003). We sampled bees at 24 grid points five times throughout the summer (above). We used bowl traps and nets to collect bee specimens. These samples will be sent to the USDA-ARS Bee Biology and Systematics Lab to be identified.

Small white or colored bowls attract pollinators. Insect visitors drown in the soapy water inside. On sampling days, we place bowl traps out in the morning along two transects at each site. Samplers return in the afternoon to collect the contents. We remove non-bee insects and strain the contents through a fine mesh net.

June 10, 2013. Teagan collects bee bowl contents at grid point 109. Non-native crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum) dominated Points 108 and 109 until spring, when the area received herbicide treatments in preparation for restoration. We observed that the restoration sites, such as those in the North Pivot area and this former crested wheatgrass area, appeared to have low bee species diversity.

Some bee species either avoid the bowl traps or can escape them, so we also net bees at each site during the sampling days. Netting provides a more complete picture of bee species diversity.

Floral resources vary by location. We sampled in several habitats to compare bee fauna between sites. These photos from the same sampling period in June highlight two habitat extremes. Grid point 108 is in a restoration area above the Bitterroot River floodplain (above). Point 370 is just below the summit of Mt. Baldy (below).

We sampled bees at each site every 3 to 4 weeks. As floral resources change throughout the season, we also expect bee species richness and abundance to shift. These photos, taken at point 367 roughly 2 months apart, emphasize the temporal change in floral resource availability.

Bees, along with other pollinators, provide the key ecosystem service of pollination for most flowering plants. These plants then provide food and habitat for other creatures. Pollinator monitoring adds to the base of knowledge about bees and produces information about the progress of habitat restoration efforts.